As you might have heard, MyFest (Mai Fest) for 1st of May is one of the biggest highlights of the party year in Berlin and unofficially the one open air party that kickstarts the summer season. Everyone is looking beautiful and you can't keep wondering where all those people were during the long winter. One of the biggest mysteries of Berlin, indeed.
But if you really want to enjoy the celebration, read this guide of "MyFest, the clever way". Why the clever way, Monica? Isn't that arrogant of you? - you might ask. Well, tomorrow it will be my 6th MyFest in Berlin. And I have learned a couple of things that I want to share with you. So really, take my advice.
Every time I mention 1st of May to a German, they don't want to hear anything about it: Krawalle is all they know about it. Blame it to the media, but it is sad that they don't know about the whole day of food, concerts and party in the heart of Kreuzberg 36.
When I mention it to an Expat, they usually don't know much about it. They heard about the riots, and also about the party, so they are quite confused. If I convince them to come along, they thank me like forever, which is cool.
That's why I am explaining how to avoid all the MyFest mistakes I've seen making, so no matter if you are a local, expat, newbie or veteran in Berlin, you enjoy the best day of the Berlin year.
1. Timing. Arrive to MyFest between 11-12h: it guarantees that you can enjoy the first concerts and the freshest food while walking around streets at the 50% of its capacity. Also use Moritzplatz, Kottbuser Tor U8 stations and walk towards the intersection of Oranienstraße and Adalbertstraße to arrive to MyFest. You can stroll around and towards Mariannenplatz with pleasure. You might think it is too early to start, but after 15h the streets are at its 120% capacity, and you better be somewhere sitting comfortably by then. Word. Don't miss the Turkish community gatherings and traditional dances!
2. Drinking. Don't get too excited: caipirinhas and mojitos 2x3 are tempting, but if you start drinking too early, you are going to miss the sunset feeling. Space up your drinks and try the really nice Turkish, Jamaican and Latin specialities you will find all around. Talk to your friends, walk around, find at some point a place to sit down and relax. Take it easy and enjoy each minute!
3. Communications. There will be no mobile o Internet network after around 14h, basically because the network is overloaded with so many people at one place trying to reach everyone else who is late to the party. So if you want to meet with friends, set a time and place early in the day and stick to it. It will be impossible to meet otherwise. Another option is going with only 2 other friends, so you are in good company and don't have to worry much about anyone else but you :) Ah, count that with all the pictures you will take, your smartphone will probably run out of battery, so be wise when using it!
4. Riots. If you want to see them, do it at your own risk. They will be around Kottbusser Tor at 19h, also near Görlitzer Park. You can just follow the big police vans. But it is safer and I'd say more espectacular on TV. Just stick to the party areas in Oranienplatz, at 19h Luzia will be full serving you their best beats with party people on a hapiness high. And that is Berlin.
Of course it is Labour Day and of course workers should keep demanding and fighting for their rights. But the riots for MyFest in Kreuzberg long ago stopped being about demostration and more about provoking violence on one side and showing the State's full force to the media on the other. So no, not worth your time and not what Berlin is about.
This is what it's about:
5. Safety. Berlin spoiled us making us think no one here steals from no one. It is quite a rule during the whole year, but on MyFest the streets are full as no other day in Berlin. So don't have your wallet in the back pocket of your jeans. Keep in in your Jutebeutel or in your jacket, just be a bit more precaucious than usual. Behave as if you were in Barcelona ;)
6. Transportation. Use your bike or walk to a nearby station, but avoid Kottbusser Tor and Moritzplatz when you are leaving. Don't take the car, you won't get access and find no parking spot.
7. Music. Find the small stage that suits your style of music and stay around, here you find the whole list AGAIN. And don't leave before 00h, the feeling of the sun going down slowly, being in a street where everyone is dancing so hard and warming each other, making the city stop for hours because nothing else matters, is unbelievable. And you should be part of it, since you are Berlin now.
As once I stated, Berlin is my religion and the Reichstag is my cathedral. Well, MyFest is my Holi, or my Christmas, or my Yom Kippur. I renew my vows to a city I married and I am still deeply in love with. MyFest brings me hope, reminds my why I am here and leaves me craving for the next MyFest and year to come.
Last year I spent it in the best company possible, if you would like to join the Clever MyFest Tour with me, sag Bescheid! We will meet at 12h in Moritzplatz :P
ENCORE TIP: Get your cash before heading to the party, because the ATMs all around the area are protected against the riots and banks close the ATM access too. This tip is brought to you by @m106 <3